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The following annotated bibliography on the legend of the Phoenix was written by Cassie Sorenson for Kip Wheeler's English 199 Class ("Writings About Medieval Monsters"), on July 19, 2001.

Annotated Bibliography on the Phoenix

Andrews, Tamar. A Dictionary of Nature Myths. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.

The phoenix is a bird that symbolizes fire and the sun. The phoenix was seen in Greek, Chinese, Arabic, Bennu, and Egyptian myths. It is said to be gold and red. Different people claim that it lived in different areaas, anywhere from Arabia to Heliopolis. According to this selectioin, the phoenix also symbolizes the maythical interpretations of the sunrise.

Anonymous. "The Phoenix." Encyclopedia Britannica.

This selection describes the phoenix as a majestic bird from Egypt. It is said that the phoenix was as big as an eagle. It had amazing gold and crimson colors. The phoenix also had a song-like cry. According to the Egyptian legend there was only one phoenix at a time and its lifespan was no less than 500 years. When the phoenix died, it set itself on fire in a bed of spices. From that ash a new phoenix rose and took its father's ashes to the altar of Heliopolis. Another legend says that the phoenix set itself on fire at the altar and the younger bird rose from that ash. There is said to be a connection between Christianity and the phoenix because it embodies the idea of resurrection and rebirth, much like Christ himself. In Islam there was the theory that the Phoenix was made by God and was absolutely perfect. Unfortunately, after a while the phoenix apparently became a plague and was killed.

Bullfinch, Thomas. Bullfinch's Mythology. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1913.

This is a book dedicated to monsters, Gods, and heroes. The selection that the phoenix is listed in is the section entitled "Stories of Gods and Heroes." This reading lists the phoenix as a species among those that are known for reproducing themselves. The name is "The Assyrians." This selection is by far the best for basic information that one may want about the phoenix. It includes the lifespan, colors, origins, and tales relating to the magical bird.

Gaskell. Dictionary of All Scriptures and Myths. New York: Julian Press, Inc., 1960.

This selection actually has a speech seeming to be delivered by the phoenix itsself. The phoenix tells the reader that he is from Heliopolis and is the ordering of all that exists. This reading and fascinating and useful. It bgins with a quote about the phoenix as a symbol of the Higher Self in the cycle of Life, passing through processes of Involution and Evolution. It continues to explore all aspects of the phoenix in a short and simple reading. [Kip's note: Gaskell seems to be a bit fixated on Jungian psychology. This text may be most useful for reader reception theorists wanting to see what later centuries have done with the phoenix legend, rather than a source for contemporary beliefs in the medieval period.]

Olderr, Steven. Symbolism. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1986.

This selection does not explain the origins or the life of the phoenix. This reading is strictly dedicated to symbolism. It lists the phoenix as representing things like justice, chastity, the cycle of destruction and creation, magic, and peace. The lack of information regarding the phoenix's physicality and life makes this selection less useful than the other books.

Vries, Adde. Dictionary of Symbols and Imagery. New York: North-Holland Publishing Co., 1974.

The name phoenix means "bright-colored." This is the only clear piece of information that this selection offers. Other than that it describes the phoenix as fourteen different things. These include a symbol of the calendar leap year. . . . This reading leaves the audience wondering what is and isn't true. It offers too many ideas and possibilities.

 

 

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